Founded by journalist and director Koudiedji Sylla, Sarakulé is a fashion brand built around hand-dyed cotton textiles. Born in Paris but with roots in Mali, Sylla shifted her focus to design with the establishment of her brand, viewing the venture as simply another medium of storytelling. Still, the objective remained the same: to popularize, enhance, demystify and revive stories that matter, as well as to celebrate the indigenous craftsmanship of Mali. According to Sylla, it all started with an indigo cotton loincloth, something that she recalls her grandmother and namesake giving to her in the courtyard of her family home in the Malian city of Kayes. With her grandmother since having passed on, Sylla considers the fabric a symbol of familial transmission, of generational know-how and, above all, of a wealth of heritage that exists and endures.
Produced using predominantly Malian cotton, Sarakulé’s offering is handcrafted by Malian artisans, rendered in shades of deep blue and rich indigo. Characterized by a clean, minimalist aesthetic, the brand’s relaxed take on elegance offers a versatile, androgynous appeal, its collections of items like tailored trousers, voluminous dresses, and billowy button-downs timeless in their simplicity. Sylla aims to imbue her designs with a sense of history, utilizing ancient, West African patterns and combining them with minimalist shapes and specific details including as puff sleeves, high waists, mandarin collar, pleats.
Since the brand’s launch, Sylla’s aim was always to be a “slow fashion" brand that believes in accessible high-end design and approaches things from a perspective of quality over quantity. Sarakulé avoids waste thanks to a pre-order system, and is meticulous in its attention to detail. The collection creation process begins with the careful weaving of cotton textiles followed by the hand knotting of the fabric and the hand dyeing of the garments in a vat of fermented indigo dye. Finally, the dyer carefully examines the resulting patterns before, once the textiles have dried, the tailor begins the sewing and garment construction process.
At the heart of the brand is this eco-conscious mission of heritage preservation. “We definitely can do magic through just looking at the heritage we have under our feet and this is my real motivation,” says Sylla. “We selected our fabrics because it expresses the genius of the craftsmen and above all it depicted the power of heritage preservation. These are passed through generations and today I am proud to say that we are still using them.”